* "In 1871 a Congressional investigation was convened to look into Forrest's alleged involvement with the Klan and to revisit the Ft. Pillow "massacre." The investigation was chaired by Forrest's old enemy, William Tecumseh Sherman, who told the press that, "We are here to investigate Forrest, charge Forrest, try Forrest, convict Forrest, and hang Forrest."
The outcome of the 1871 investigation was twofold. The committee found no evidence that Forrest had participated in the formation of the Klan and that even the use of his name may well have been without his permission. They also found that there was no credible evidence that Forrest had ever participated in or directed any actions of the Klan.
"The reports of Committees, House of Representatives, second session, forty-second congress," P. 7-449.
"The primary accusation before this board is that Gen. Forrest was a founder of The Klan, and its first Grand Wizard, So I shall address those accusations first. In 1871, Gen. Forrest was called before a congressional Committee along with 21 other ex-Confederate officers including Admiral Raphael Semmes, Gen. Wade Hampton, Gen. John B.
Gordon, and Gen. Braxton Bragg. Forrest testified before Congress personally over four hours. Forrest took the witness stand June 27th, 1871. Building a railroad in Tennessee at the time, Gen Forrest stated he 'had done more , probably than any other man, to suppress these violence and difficulties and keep them down, had been vilified and abused in the (news) papers, and accused of things I never did while in the army and since. He had nothing to hide, wanted to see this matter settled, our country quite once more, and our people united and working together harmoniously.'
Asked if he knew of any men or combination of men violating the law or preventing the execution of the law: Gen Forest answered emphatically, 'No.' (A Committee member brought up a document suggesting otherwise, the 1868 newspaper article from the "Cincinnati Commercial". That was their "evidence", a news article.) Forrest stated '...any information he had on the Klan was information given to him by others.'
Sen. Scott asked, 'Did you take any steps in organizing an association or society under that prescript (Klan constitution)?'
Forrest: 'I DID NOT' Forrest further stated that '...he thought the Organization (Klan) started in middle Tennessee, although he did not know where.
It is said I started it.'
Asked by Sen. Scott, 'Did you start it, Is that true?'
Forrest: 'No Sir, it is not.'
Asked if he had heard of the Knights of the white Camellia, a Klan-like organization in Louisiana,
Forrest: 'Yes, they were reported to be there.'
Senator: 'Were you a member of the order of the white Camellia?'
Forrest: 'No Sir, I never was a member of the Knights of the white Camellia.'
Asked about the Klan:
Forrest: 'It was a matter I knew very little about. All my efforts were addressed to stop it, disband it, and prevent it....I was trying to keep it down as much as possible.'
Forrest: 'I talked with different people that I believed were connected to it, and urged the disbandment of it, that it should be broken up.'"
The following article appeared in the New York times June 27th, "Washington, 1871. Gen Forrest was before the Klu Klux Committee today, and his examination lasted four hours. After the examination, he remarked than the committee treated him with much courtesy and respect."
Congressional records show that Gen. Forrest was absolved of all complicity in the founding or operation of the Ku Klux Klan, and he was certainly never a "Grand Wizard". These committees had the utmost evidence and living witnesses at their disposal. The evidence precluded any Guilt or indictment of Gen. Forrest and the matter was closed before that body of final judgment in 1872.
The following findings in the Final report of this committee of Congress concluded,
"The statement of these gentlemen (Forrest and Gordon) are full and explicit...the evidence fully sustains them."
*( Thanks to Gary Adams @ SHPG)